Patience, knowledge and due diligence is the key to stock market trading. Markets go through bull and bear phases and a wise investor knows how to make the most of the down time as well. As someone who is new to investing, you need to familiarize yourself with the various terms used in trading parlance to gain a better understanding of how markets function. Drawdown meaning is an important one among these that can help you analyse the dynamism of the market and make prudent investment decisions accordingly.

What is a drawdown?

Traders define drawdown as the largest potential for loss in the value of an investment measured as a difference between the highest peak and the subsequent lowest trough in the market for a specific period of time. This is different from a loss which is computed as the difference between the purchase price and that at which an asset is bought or sold in the market.

When the value of an investment falls below the highest and then again crosses the highest peak witnessed during the investment period, a drawdown is recorded. The longer the value of an asset stays below the last peak, the more is the possibility of a lower trough, thus increasing the amount of drawdown. Knowledge of drawdown meaning is crucial to managing market turbulence, gauging volatility and measuring the inherent risk associated with your investments.

Understanding drawdown

Let us define drawdown with an example to better visualize how this tool can improve your investment strategy. Usually, a trader would calculate his returns on the basis of a specific time frame, which can be from the beginning of a year, or a monthly basis. Suppose he has an investment portfolio worth Rs 10 lakh which reaches a high of Rs 15 lakh during a year. Traditionally, his returns would be to the tune of 50%.

Now, the market sees a correction during the same period, bringing down his portfolio value to Rs 12 lakh. He would still be satisfied considering he has made a positive return of 20% on his capital. However, as per drawdown definition above, the calculation will be made using the highest value of his investment, i.e. Rs 15 lakh as the starting point and deducting the lowest value. i.e. Rs 12 lakh to arrive at a drop of 20%.

Efficient risk assessment

Now that you know what is a drawdown, you can see how analysing it can improve your trading strategy by giving you an accurate picture of the risk involved in your investments in the future. Understanding drawdown meaning and applying it when making an investment decision can help you minimize your losses and improve your trading performance. Whether you face a reduction in the market value of an asset or market volatility due to external factors in the future, as long as you utilise your expertise of drawdown definition you can predict price movements to optimize your investments.

An asset with a low drawdown value is indicative of lower risk and hence is more stable as compared to one with a higher value. So, if you are willing to take a higher risk to get higher returns, you can opt for the latter, while the former is a good choice when you wish to get a stabilised portfolio.  Knowing what is a drawdown, also needs to be viewed in the light of the time it takes for you to recover your investment from such a scenario. This can vary depending on the type of asset. While it can take years for loss recovery, it could also be achieved in a shorter time frame pushing the asset beyond its earlier peak value.


Navigating your way in the stock market is a tightrope and to achieve the right balance it pays to be aware of what is a drawdown so that you can generate better returns. After all, learning from your mistakes paves the way for a diligent investor to get better at strategy formulation. So, incorporate the essence of drawdown definition as explained above in your trading game and employ your hind sight to figure out the lowest level to which your investment can go before it starts to rise again. Knowing your pain points is the key to seeing your portfolio grow in the future!